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July 23, 2014

Posts in "Tea Party"

July 15, 2014

Why House Conservatives Don’t Support Obama Impeachment

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One of Labrador’s arguments against an Obama impeachment push: “President Joe Biden.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A curious line of reasoning emerged Tuesday as to why conservatives in Congress aren’t chomping at the bit to impeach a president that they believe has broken the law: There isn’t enough time.

At a monthly panel discussion with conservative lawmakers, members were asked if they would support impeaching President Barack Obama for selective enforcement of some laws and dramatic reinterpretations of others.

While a number of the lawmakers seemed to think impeachment was warranted, no one was offering to write up the proceedings.

“The president deserves to be impeached,” said Rep. Randy Weber, R-Texas. “Plain and simple.”

But, as Weber pointed out, it isn’t so simple.

“We’ve got so much on our plate that it’s not practical,” he said, noting that such an endeavor wouldn’t pass the Senate even though “he definitely deserves it.” Full story

July 10, 2014

Text of Stockman Resolution Calling for House to Arrest Lois Lerner

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Lois Lerner, director of exempt organizations for the IRS. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Texas Republican Steve Stockman filed a resolution Thursday directing the House sergeant-at-arms to arrest former IRS official Lois Lerner on charges of contempt of Congress.

“Asking the Justice Department to prosecute Lois Lerner for admittedly illegal activity is a joke,” Stockman said in a statement. “The Obama administration will not prosecute the Obama administration. How much longer will the House allow itself to be mocked? It is up to this House to uphold the rule of law and hold accountable those who illegally targeted American citizens for simply having different ideas than the President.”

Under the resolution Lerner would be held in the D.C. jail and would have full legal rights and access to an attorney. CQ Roll Call has reported on the House’s rarely-used power, confirmed by the Supreme Court, to arrest and hold those found in contempt of Congress.

The full text of Stockman’s proposal, H.Res. 664 is below. Full story

Diaz-Balart’s Immigration Overhaul Effort Is Dead for Now

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Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., will no longer seek to advance his draft immigration bill (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

After a year and a half of stops and starts, unbridled optimism and hints of inevitable defeat, Florida Republican Mario Diaz-Balart has declared his efforts to overhaul the nation’s immigration system officially dead for the 113th Congress.

“Despite our best efforts, today I was informed by the Republican leadership that they have no intention to bring this bill to the floor this year,” the congressman told reporters at a hastily convened press conference in the Cannon House Office Building on Thursday afternoon. “It is disappointing and highly unfortunate.”

Later, Diaz-Balart repeated, “I don’t think I can hide my disappointment.” Full story

June 24, 2014

‘Cruz Caucus’ Talks Leadership Elections in Both Chambers

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Cruz met again Tuesday with House conservatives. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Ted Cruz held another closed-door meeting with House conservatives Tuesday night, sitting down with insurgents over pizza in his office for a free-flowing discussion about immigration, leadership elections, the IRS and recent changes at the Republican Study Committee.

Over the course of about an hour and a half, 14 of the most conservative members of the House piled into Cruz’s Dirksen office for what was described in an email as an off-the-record gathering of “discussion and fellowship.”

The attendees were, in the order in which they arrived: Doug Lamborn of Colorado, Trent Franks of Arizona, Mo Brooks of Alabama, John Fleming of Louisiana, Thomas Massie of Kentucky, Paul Gosar of Arizona, Louie Gohmert of Texas, Matt Salmon of Arizona, Steve Stockman of Texas, Paul Broun of Georgia, Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, Ted Yoho of Florida, Steve Pearce of New Mexico and Michele Bachmann of Minnesota. (Lamborn was facing a primary back home.)

This isn’t the first time Cruz has met quietly with House conservatives. He met in the basement of Tortilla Coast with 15 to 20 House Republicans during the government shutdown in October. He also met with a similar group of House Republicans in his office in April.

The topics of conversation at these meetings have been the subject of vivid speculation.

But Tuesday night, Cruz looked to downplay the whole affair as he entered the meeting at 7:09 p.m.

“You guys have made a mountain out of a molehill,” the Texas Republican told CQ Roll Call. He noted that he had met with conservatives “periodically,” and he implied such gatherings aren’t a big deal. Full story

June 20, 2014

Labrador Says Boehner Now Less Likely to Retire in Fall

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Labrador says Boehner is the big winner this week. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated: 6:35 p.m. | While many lawmakers have said they don’t think Speaker John A. Boehner will stay for another term, the surprise defeat of Majority Leader Eric Cantor and the recent leadership elections now has at least one conservative lawmaker thinking Boehner’s position has been strengthened.

Raúl R. Labrador has repeatedly predicted that Boehner would step down as speaker at the end of this term. In fact, the Idaho Republican did it as recently as last Tuesday, on the morning of the day that Cantor lost his primary to Dave Brat.

But after waging his own unsuccessful bid for majority leader, and after Kevin McCarthy was elected to the position, Labrador thinks Boehner is now better positioned to stick around. Full story

Kevin McCarthy to Religious Conservatives: ‘Proud to Be a Christian’

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McCarthy makes his way to the House floor through the media pack, who were waiting for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor on June 11. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

One day after winning the House Majority Leader election, Rep. Kevin McCarthy told a Washington gathering of religious conservatives that he’s “proud to be a Christian.”

In a brief afternoon appearance at Ralph Reed’s Faith & Freedom Coalition Conference, an upbeat McCarthy, R-Calif., told attendees he thanks “my Lord and Savior for his grace, his strength and for never leaving me.”

McCarthy, who is a Baptist, was elected to GOP majority leader Thursday in his fourth term in the House, the fastest ever ascent to the pivotal leadership post.

He steps up from the No. 3 post in the House, majority whip, to replace the outgoing No. 2, Rep. Eric Cantor, who lost his Virginia Republican primary on June 10 to Dave Brat, a college economics professor who was backed by tea party groups.

McCarthy’s election has been met with skepticism by some social conservatives who consider the Bakersfield native an “establishment” Republican.

He told attendees he will bring the party together: “We will unite.”

June 19, 2014

Pelosi Downplays Missing IRS Emails While Boehner Calls for Answers (Video)

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Pelosi, D-Calif., says revelations that the IRS lost emails sought by Congress likely means the tax agency needs better computer equipment. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi doesn’t appear to think that there was foul play in the Internal Revenue Service’s misplacement of key emails from Lois Lerner, the ex-agency official at the center of the ongoing IRS scandal.

At her weekly press conference Thursday morning, the California Democrat said her takeaway from reports that Lerner’s emails have been lost forever was simply that the IRS needs to upgrade its technology infrastructure.

Full story

June 17, 2014

Would-Be Whips Woo Conservatives, Reassure Moderates

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Majority whip race contender Roskam says he can tame the House Republican Conference. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Candidates for House majority whip are pushing their cases hard in the last hours of the race, each promising to heal a party scarred by infighting and at the same time, wrangle the conference into a united voting bloc.

In the run-up to Thursday’s pivotal vote, Rep. Peter Roskam, the chief deputy whip, is touting himself as the most experienced candidate — and the only one who will be a disciplinarian toward rambunctious members who vote out of step with leadership.

The Illinois Republican said he would punish members who vote against leaders’ priorities, according to a member familiar with his pitch. Although that is much more difficult in a post-earmark world, Roskam laid out a slate of ideas, including refusing to take up unruly members’ bills, withholding plum committee assignments and even banishing rebels from the weekly conference breakfast, denying them a free meal if they do not play with the rest of the team. Full story

June 16, 2014

Labrador Appeals Directly to Colleagues for Support in Majority Leader Race

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Labrador has written a letter to his House colleagues, asking for them to support him to be the next majority leader. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Raúl R. Labrador is running a high-profile campaign to be the next House majority leader, appearing on nationally-syndicated talk shows, obliging interview requests from Capitol Hill scribes and penning a personal appeal to his colleagues.

In advance of the Thursday election that will decide who gets to replace outgoing majority leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., the Idaho Republican sent a brief letter to members of the GOP conference late Monday to ask for their support.

Labrador, who is running largely as the conservative alternative to his opponent, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California, said that his seat at the leadership table would mark both a departure from the “status quo” and a return to a time where senior lawmakers sought to unify the rank and file. Full story

Roskam-Scalise Whip Race Heats Up, Gets Ugly

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From left, Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, Reps. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., Roskam, R-Ill., and Scalise, R-La., talk earlier this year. Scalise and Roskam are now rivals for the house whip post. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The two front-runners in the race to become the next House majority whip spent the weekend shoring up support with potential allies — and, through staff, taking swipes at each other.

A source close to Chief Deputy Whip Peter Roskam, in an emailed memo to CQ Roll Call, said the 90-plus members in the House who have pledged to vote for the Illinois Republican are “rock solid,” while Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise’s numbers are “soft” and “all over the place since Thursday — at 100, 120, over 100, etc. etc.

“No one wants a whip who can’t count,” the source continued, “and no one wants a whip who overpromises and under-delivers.” Full story

June 11, 2014

Cantor Quake Sets Off GOP Leadership Fights

House Republicans quickly sloughed off the shock of Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s defeat and were immediately thrust into a weeklong, all-out sprint for power.

Next Thursday’s vote for new leadership will have ripple effects that touch every aspect of House policymaking, messaging and scheduling.

Republicans are hoping for a quick transition, counting on the chaos of this week’s unexpected primary results to give way to unity and a new leadership team. Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio called on his conference to come together, even as internal elections are sure to tear them apart for the next week.

“This is the time for unity; the time for focus — focus on the thing we all know to be true: The failure of Barack Obama’s policies and our obligation to show the American people we offer them not just a viable alternative, but a better future,” he told his conference in a private meeting Wednesday night. Full story

Immigration Overhaul Prospects Dim in Wake of Cantor’s Defeat (Video)

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Immigration overhaul may be on life support after Cantor’s loss. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The jury’s still out on whether Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost his primary Tuesday night because he was perceived by voters to be in support of rewriting the country’s immigration laws.

But by Wednesday afternoon, there was at least growing consensus that the Virginia Republican’s defeat at the hands of tea-party-backed challenger Dave Brat significantly complicated prospects for passing overhaul legislation this year.

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., one of the GOP’s most dogged and optimistic advocates for moving on the issue in the 113th Congress, suddenly said he had no idea how to go forward, with members spooked and the leadership structure suddenly in flux.

“This clearly doesn’t help our cause,” he told reporters. “It throws a wrench in it.”

Full story

Cantor Loss ‘Was a 10 on the Stun Scale’

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Israel was among those stunned by the Cantor loss. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

“I’m giving a speech. I have no time for jokes,” Steve Israel told Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Executive Director Kelly Ward when she emailed to suggest there were signs something was happening in Virginia’s 7th District.

It was 7:15 p.m. and Israel had just left an event for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. He passed Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., as she arrived.

The New York Democrat was on his way to address the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association, and Ward flagged that with 30 percent of the primary vote in, it seemed House Majority Leader Eric Cantor might be in peril. He wasn’t interested. Polls, after all, had just closed.trans Cantor Loss Was a 10 on the Stun Scale

Full story

June 10, 2014

Boehner Statement on Cantor’s Defeat

House GOP leaders weren’t expecting Majority Leader Eric Cantor to lose his primary Tuesday night against Tea Party-backed challenger Dave Brat, so nobody had statements ready when the race was called shortly after 8 p.m.

Reflections on the Virginia Republican’s defeat only began to filter in during the very late hours of the evening.

All were brief, free of political rancor for Brat and of any hints at personal ambitions to climb the ranks with the House’s No. 2 GOP lawmaker out of the picture in the 114th Congress.

Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., widely considered to now be angling for Cantor’s job, said “every single Member of this conference is indebted to Eric’s graciousness and leadership.”

Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., called Cantor “a great friend and colleague.”

Perhaps the most revealing assessment of the evening’s turn of events came from Speaker John A. Boehner. Earlier, he exited from a local Italian restaurant and declined to speak with reporters who were waiting for him.

Full story

Stunner: Cantor Upset Changes Everything

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Cantor appeared at a leadership press conference Tuesday, hours before losing his primary. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor was defeated in a Republican primary Tuesday, conceding his Virginia seat to a local activist after a stunning loss with possibly dramatic consequences for leadership, the chances of any immigration overhaul passing Congress and the future of his party.

He is the first majority leader ever to fall in primary defeat — the position was created in 1899.

Cantor, toppled by college economics professor Dave Brat, 56 percent to 44 percent, conceded just after The Associated Press declared the race over.

Democratic and Republican leadership aides expressed total disbelief and dumbfoundedness Tuesday night. Political operatives in the Old Dominion and organizers in Washington quickly studied election law to see if he could run as a write-in.

With his wife, Diana Fine Cantor, at his side, Cantor choked back emotion and did not sound like a man aiming to stage a comeback.

Full story

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